Newark launches COVID-19 testing in public housing

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Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay 
Urban News Staff Reports

Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the Newark Housing Authority (NHA) have begun a program to offer testing at all of the City’s public housing complexes for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The program began earlier this week at two senior housing locations under the leadership of NHA Executive Director Victor Cirilo.

It continued Saturday at Stephen Crane Elderly Center, located at 801 North 6th Street for residents of the complex buildings.

Baraka said the City and NHA “are getting ready to test aggressively at our senior homes and the long-term healthcare facilities first, because seniors are the most vulnerable. We are going into the areas that are hit the hardest.”

Director Cirillo said there are about 5,200 residents at 24 senior high rise buildings throughout the City and “we hope to test each and every one of the buildings in the coming weeks.”

Once testing is completed at Stephen Crane, NHA will begin to test all family housing complexes.

“We are the 10th largest housing authority in the country and largest in the state,” Director Cirilo added, “with over 30,000 Newark residents at senior and family low income complexes, we have a responsibility to be proactive and safeguard a large portion of our City’s population from this dangerous pandemic.”

Cirilo said the testing is covered by Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance. The tests are nasal swabs and will be processed by Sunrise Diagnostic Laboratories of South Plainfield and HealthEast Medical Alliance in Englewood, with results returned in 24 to 48 hours.

Meanwhile, the City will be testing other residents by appointment only at the Branch Brook Park Skating Rink, beginning Wednesday, May 6. Testing will be done Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The site will have both a drive-up and walk-up options.

Anyone asking to be tested must meet the CDC requirements, which include symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, or sore throat.

Residents that are scheduled for testing must wear a face covering, gloves, and must bring a valid ID and insurance card with them to the test site. Proof of Newark residency is required (i.e. driver license, utility or phone bill). To schedule an appointment at the Branch Brook Park location, residents can call 973-988-5511.

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